I’m often asked for travel tips about a particular destination. Often, I give a fastidious response: listen to yourself.
Sure, I can reel off travel tips for over 80 countries on earth. But I can’t guarantee these tips will be good ones for you, because they are based on my values, and happened in a particular moment in my life. What do you value in a good journey? What images of travel are contained within your soul—daydreams of adventure you perhaps keep close to your chest?
It is a strange concept, that there are ‘images in your soul’. Is there such a thing as a human soul? And if there is, does it spend its days making subconscious images about travel?
Few people are asked about the images of their soul. But I think there are fewer more important questions to ask a person. During the recent travel Masterclass, one participant asked me two questions related to fear and safety. I told him I’d get to his questions, but I first asked him what his ‘image’ was. After a quick pause, he began to speak about his travel inspiration: minerals, mines, and some of the hardest-to-reach areas on earth. He spoke with such passion it was amazing, as if years of secret yearning were allowed to become expressed. I truly hope this man will make it to these places once in his lifetime. What ‘initiation’ will he find once he gets there? Who knows, but something deep in his soul might become realised. Perhaps he passes a moment of deep, life-redeeming wonder.
I could have rattled off a number of travel ’tips’ to this gentleman. But by listening beneath his surface concerns, he had all the core tips he needed. Now he can move into preparation, and start handling any fears specific to his path.
It is probably unwise, though, to always be the puritanical ‘look within’ guy. I get it—listening to ‘tips’ is an essential part of travel! You need to get your feelers into places, and part of that is hearing travel tales through the grapevine. But once the image of a place starts to call you, a better form of preparation is to become a student of culture. Do you have an involuntary, mythical call to Brazil, for example? Then before leaving home, watch Brazilian cinema, listen to their history of music, talk to Brazilian people in your hometown, or make friends and contacts (even dates) online.
Lose yourself in a gormless gaze at the map. Look at the photos and read of the pilgrims who went before you. Let the country draw you in, and aim for locations that haunt your dreams (rather than ticking off the guidebook’s ‘best of’). This is my ‘tip’ to you, wherever you go in the world.
The best preparation for travel is to feed the intuitive hemisphere of your brain. Practicalities and logistics are often simple enough. Travel light, update your ATM card, and get a flexible flight-ticket home!
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Travel Fear and a Dangerous World
The world is changing, I cannot lie. And some countries that were available to visit in 2019 are off-limits now (though for the intrepid there is usually a way). How do you deal with the real threat of danger and stay safe on the road? This was another big theme of the Masterclass.
Well, I am not reckless. Pay your due diligence. If your country advises against all-but-essential travel to a region, perhaps don’t go there. For any target province or city, you can search online for current safety recommendations: scams to avoid, arrival-at-night, protecting yourself against illness and crime.
But the thing with travel is that something will always go wrong. Danger, violence, sickness, loss, injury and accidents… These are simply facets of life; facets of travel.
Mitigating against every negative experience is to keep the comfort-zone around you. The real question is can you stay present, open-minded and equanimous, even in the midst of a travel disaster? This is where you find the most transformative aspect of travel, and earn the kind of self-knowledge you wanted when you began.
In 2007, I was kidnapped at gunpoint in La Paz, Bolivia, and taken hostage for 24 hours. I wouldn’t wish this experience on anyone, and I wish I’d not stepped into that taxi! Accidents happen on the road, though. This is the first principle. What do you do with such a situation? Well, in the midst of the raw, pumping adrenaline, and the fear of being hacked to death and thrown, in garbage sacks, into the jungle, I realised I could actually keep a sense of calm. I talked to my kidnappers. I tried to understand what they wanted (ATM money—as much as possible!), and I tried to cooperate, to get a swift release. I realised I could keep my presence-of-mind in the midst of an existential, mafia-led catastrophe. Quite an initiation: I learned I can deal with danger quite, quite nicely.
Part of being a young man, in particular, is having an allure for danger; to find out who you are when you face danger. A man needs to know in his bones that he can tolerate a certain level of uncertainty and anxiety. This is why young men lust after the wild wests of the world—they invite us to more illicit forms of initiation, ones only available amidst the darkened chaos of the world.
How do you become a ‘man’? How do you get masculine edge? This is the perennial question of our group.
Well, accepting responsibility, buying a home and paying your taxes, are strong parts of adulthood. But the confidence that comes with knowing you’re able to deal with unpredictable and volatile situations in dangerous places—knowing you can make good even under the pressure of pulse-inducing, complicated situations—is a big part of masculine initiation.
At the core of the concept we call Masculine Edge is making a priority of following your dream, the image of your soul…
… and not being afraid of life.
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Initiatory Travel, The Make Up
So the cardinal rule of travel is that things are going to go wrong sometimes, and you will have to make new plans. In perfect, travel style, our recording of Saturday’s Masterclass itself got corrupted and kidnapped… and we have to do the Masterclass again!
If you want to be part of this conversation, The Art of Initiatory Travel, you still can. The lectures from the Masterclass are now on our private portal and are ready to watch, and we will hold a couple of make-up Q&A sessions this weekend.
So if you missed the Masterclass but you still want a chance to join, now is a great time to do so!
Two bonus Q&A calls will take place on Sunday, April 3rd, at 1pm in Central Europe, and at 9pm Eastern.
Step up, and start a deeper preparation for your next adventure.
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